no, this is just what happens when you pay attention to the life outside and in.

Bodies fold like tired laundry. Beds are no longer a necessity when eyes climb closed and the push/pull of subway lulls bones to sleep. We wear our coats now. Construction boots. Necks are scarve’d and skulls are capped by wool. How contagious is that cough at the end of this train. Would we still exist without cell phones or candy crush.

At 6:36am on Wednesday, the sky still sleeps. Call it eighty shades of black with planets that blink. If I hadn’t of noticed that chip in the moon last night, I might have forgotten why I look up so often. At 125th Street, the humans get off and suddenly that coveted blue bench is empty. I am book-ended by sleepy commuters and across, a man shakes his neck toward the music piped into his ears. I need no record or radio to channel the pre-recorded rhythms in my mind.

Outside, pigeons flap wings wearing reminders of breakfast: barbecue sauce, bones on their breath. I cannot explain why I call them my favorite bird, but maybe it is their flight. History as grey and white mailboxes or. Maybe it is the way they are ignored or shooed away. And aren’t the most beautiful parts of earth also what we tend to forget to notice?

a tale of two jennifers

Beneath a plastic wrapped swingset. On my bed in a basement in New Jersey. Tall and thick. Strong and thin. Shaved. With moustache. From Freehold. From the Bronx. One was heterosexual. One was newly queer. One is married now (perhaps). One transitioned (I wonder).

I tend to write about my first time but never the third time or the last time or the time that never happened or the time I still think about or the time that almost ruined me.

How have I evolved in this sex life and how many of them still think about me or our time together.

I have no idea where they are– even in this world of constant knowing of where everybody is and what they are eating– so I will guess or gather enough words to create a story in my head.

Two Jennifers– one almost after the other– plus the one I never got to because her lips preferred boys’. This particular Jennifer bared her back to me one day on route nine when we were feasting our flesh on needles and ink. Her boyfriend purchased her a fairy and I called myself a woman on my lower back with a circle and cross.

I loved her before I even knew what that meant because in those days queer existed in banned library books and in closets. There were no clubs, only bullies lurking in cafeterias.

Years later, I’d find her, briefly before she got lost again. Behind bars. Locked up.

The Jennifers led to a queue of others: women, some whose names I memorized, some of which I never needed to learn. The Jennifers led me to my first orgasm, experienced far later than I care to explain. The Jennifers introduced me to french kissing and fingering and fondling above and below clothing.

After the Jennifers, I found love several times. Each time growing bolder and thicker and LOUDER.

Sometimes I wish I could find both of them. Let them see me without the smoke and inebriation. We could write a poem together, share a meal. We can scratch each other’s bodies with hieroglyphics–translated into SOS signs. They may be surprised I stopped drugging and I may be surprised they both practice heterosexuality now.

There was that time. Neither of them were there, but the smell of their memory was. In that state I never thought I’d travel to. In a tent or on a mountain or maybe we were straddling a rented mattress or eating a burrito or perhaps reading Sexton or shivering melodies or burrowed in a sleeping bag or hiding out from agendas or letting go of gender roles in a sulphuric cave.

And everything I had learned from the Jennifers– and the ones who followed soon after– no longer mattered. Because bodies steeped in (real) love let go of choreography and you know it’s real when there is silence. No moans. No dirt speak. Just crickets or dog bark or toenail scratch against ankle or yelp from the good pain.

Maybe it’s best we lose track of people because memories cannot remain static if we are FACEBOOK friends, chronicling lives through stalked computer screens. I like remembering the Jennifers as how they first looked to me. Young. Because I was. New. Because everything then was. Real. Because even if I’m the only homo left, our bodies created music created lessons created history. Even if just for me.

transplanted allergies

I treated myself to a small cup of hot cocoa on 3rd Avenue in the Bronx on the way to work. One dollar yielded a steamed beverage and reminder that I am an outsider in the northernmost borough I have been flirting with.

“Do you want sugar?” said the man elevated on truck also selling pastries and bagels.

“No, thank you,” I answered. “Do you have soy milk?”

“No.”

“Skim milk?”

“No. Just regular milk.”

There was an awkward pause and I told him to just throw in a little bit.

He handed me my hot cocoa, wrapped up in two small napkins; I handed him a dollar.

Soy milk in the Bronx?” he said with a smirk.

*
There is something special about this place, which is the fourth-largest in land area of the five boroughs, the fourth most populated, and the third-highest in density of population. I’ve gotten the best coconut ice ever from a sweet woman pushing a cart of various flavors. That first lick revealed a true sense of palm tree treasures. I’ve yet to experience the Botanical Garden or the Wildlife Center. There is also the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage!

It all begins with a paper cup full of powdered hot chocolate (the best kind), which opens up my eyes to the beauty of this Bronx.